Tina Kakadelis
YA Author

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Burn Before Reading: A Carly Allen Story

And I Believe in Love

wonder.jpg

The time has finally come, y'all. I have seen Wonder Woman. Finally. And it was everything that I could've dreamt up or imagined. It was so fucking (excuse my French) cool to see a woman just entirely kick ass. Pardon my damn French, I'm just so amped.

I've talked before about the idea of strong female characters and how strength shouldn't be the only thing that makes a woman "strong." This movie understood that concept 100%. Diana is a great character because of her sense of self. Yeah, she's strong, but that's not all she is. She's sweet, she's funny, she likes ice cream! She's passionate, she's caring, and she's strong. She's a whole bunch of different things. A fully realized female character...on a theatre screen...HOW DID I EVER GET SO LUCKY?!

I also want to talk about how this movie treated its dude characters. Specifically, the wildly charismatic Chris Pine as Steve Trevor.

What I adore about Steve Trevor is that he knows that he is the sidekick. At first, there’s a bit of him that wants to be the hero that protects Diana, but the second he realizes that Diana can not only hold her own, but can hold the own of all of humanity, he rightfully steps back. The beautiful line, “I can save today. You can save the world” is the perfect example of Steve knowing his place behind Diana’s charge.

Think about how common it is for a woman to be considered the expert in whatever field only to have a man sidle on up, tip his metaphorical fedora, and drawl out the dreaded “Actually…” No, not fucking “actually,” bro. A lot of men think they are the default experts even if they are not. It’s why Gail Simone, a writer for Deadpool, was waiting in line to see Deadpool and a man had the audacity to explain the plot of Deadpool to her. It’s why Rebecca Solnit was at a party and a man started talking about a book that he just read and Rebecca’s friend is like that’s Rebecca’s book and he just didn't get it and continued to talk over her. It’s also why Rebecca has an entire book of essays called Men Explain Things to Me. It's why I could keep going on and on about every instance where a woman was corrected by a man who knew less than her. Believe me, every woman's got one.

That’s what’s so great about Steve. He is a fully realized character on his own who understands the limits of his humanness. Obviously, he’s not going to be as successful as a literal Amazonian god killer, but he’s still going to fight within his means because there’s a cause he believes in. This courtesy of letting the love interest sidekick hold their own is not something that’s extended to many women when the gender is reversed. Honestly, even when women are given the lead role, a lot of time they don’t get treated as nicely as Steve Trevor. He was more of his own character than Kara Danvers was the entire second season of Supergirl. (I know, I know. Nobody watches that show, but I do and I will not stop having opinions on it even though it's on hiatus.)

There is something about Steves in superhero movies that are just the best. Steve Rogers, Steve Trevor. These men will never let you down.

I don't know how to gracefully change the course of this review so...

This may seem like a weird thing to notice, but take a ride with me for this one. Her thigh jiggled. There's a part in the final battle where Diana was just flying through the air kicking ass and then she lands on her knee. As she lands, her thigh jiggles as it does when you land on the ground after flying. That would NEVER happen in a movie directed by a dude unless it was played for laughs because the world is full of assholes who think any woman's body that's not zero percent fat exists only as a "comedic" effect. Y'all, the world is dumb.

Back to Wonder Woman, though. There's theories about how things are shot and most commonly, women are shot in the male gaze for male pleasure. It's why you get all those lingering shots on a woman's chest or her butt in movies that are marketed toward and directed by men. Then you look at a movie like Wonder Woman, directed by a woman, the camera never lingers on Diana's body.

That's why it's so wild to me that her thigh jiggled. She's a real woman who's strong and not concerned with what she looks when she's fighting THE LITERAL GOD OF WAR. She's got better things to worry about. They didn't edit it out in post or reframe the shot because there's no need. That's her body and she's strong and she's got nothing to apologize for. That is fucking cool. There Amazon women with scars, crows feet, and wrinkles and no one batted an eye. BECAUSE THERE'S NO NEED TO BAT AN EYE, BUT HOLLYWOOD HAS CREATED UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS ABOUT WOMEN SO IT'S REALLY REFRESHING TO JUST SEE WOMEN UNAPOLOGETICALLY BEING WOMEN. An entire movie where the camera never lingered creepily on any woman. I didn't think it could happen.

It's not like there weren't opportunities to do that if they wanted to. Her skirt was super short and there could've been an unnecessary scene where you see her changing for no other reason than to see part of a naked lady. Those scenes didn't exist because they're entirely irrelevant. We're all so used to expecting scenes like that because they're in virtually every action movie, but they don't have a purpose. What do you gain from objectifying women like that? Certainly doesn't add to the plot. It's just a hollow way for dudes to ogle women in the name of ~film~.

I saw a few people critiquing just how quickly Steve Trevor fell in love with Diana and to that I say that I can't blame him. That smile of her's could probably save the world if you could figure out a away to bottle it up. If she looked at me and smiled at me just one time, I'd be done, on my knee, proposing in that moment. You honestly can't blame the dude.

My one complaint for the movie is that the final battle with Ares absolutely pales in comparison to No Man's Land and her subsequent fighting in the village. That scene might just be the greatest fight scene I've ever seen in my life. And yeah, the one with Ares was cool, too, but it lacked the grandeur of No Man's Land.

I can count on less than ten fingers the times I've gotten to see a woman be unequivocally heroic on film. Not one nearly as epic as Wonder Woman. As soon as Steve called it No Man's Land because no man could cross it, I felt goosebumps. I knew what was about to happen. I have lost track of how many times I've heard, "No this is a job for a man" both in real life and in movies. To hear a man say that it was an impossible feat only to have this passionate, headstrong woman say "Never mind the odds, I have to try. It's what I'm meant to do" was something I'm not used to hearing. And I started crying. Obviously. Only monsters didn't cry at this scene.

Diana's heart is what this movie was built on and it's about damn time superhero movies brought this caliber of heart back. So many of the new movies are dark and gloomy and all the superhero dudes are like "woe is me look at this great burden I must bear sympathize with me." Diana doesn't have time for that. She's going to save the world, dammit, so shut up and point her in the right direction because she truly believes in what she's doing. Damn the odds. The old Superman has this heart, Adam West's Batman has that heart, season one of Supergirl has this heart, and the first Captain America movie has this heart.

One of the best moments in the movie is when Charlie, the sniper who can't shoot, wants to find a way to leave the team. He feels pretty bad because he can't do the one thing that he's always been able to do and like he has no place on the team. But then Diana smiles the sweetest smile at him, tilts her head, and says, "But, Charlie, who would sing for us?"

Diana is a superhero, in every definition of the word. She has strength that eclipses any human, but the greatest power in her she has is her ability to get people to believe in themselves. She gives them hope and that's one of the strongest forces in the universe. She is a simple hero in a very complicated world.

For some idiotic reason, passion, hope, and love get mistaken for weakness or cheesiness. You know what's cheesy? A person flying around in tights saving the day. Suspend your disbelief and let superheroes be beacons of love and hope again. Those words are not weak. The first Captain America cover is him suckerpunching Hitler and it was written by Jewish dudes during WWII. You mean to tell me they wrote it so that Cap could be mopey and angsty? No! They wrote it as a signal of hope, strength, resilience, and love in a time when the world certainly wasn't being kind to people like them.

Here's the thing; the world is far from kind right now. I don't even have to tell you. I'm sure you're aware of the heaviness of the world. That's why Wonder Woman matters. She's standing up in this dark, gloomy world saying that love is worthwhile and it's going to save the damn day. Not brute force or anger or anything else but love. Love, a thousand times over. It's time we start believing in her, too.

(Also, will I ever be free from talking about the Wall Street bull statue saga????? At least this time, something good happened there.)